The next step

Life after Match: How to prepare for your residency or internship

Learn the best steps to take to ready yourself for the next phase of your career.


After the elation of matching wears off, fourth-year medical students realize that in a few short months, they’ll have new initials after their name—and a host of new responsibilities to go with them.

What are the best steps to take to ready yourself for the next phase of your career? Two program directors, two residents and a professor share their tips below.


Your residency schedule will be demanding, and you may not have a lot of time to travel initially, says Sonbol Shahid-Salles, DO, MPH, a member of the AOA’s Bureau of Emerging Leaders.

Sonbol Shahid-Salles, DO, MPH

The weeks after medical school just before you start residency provide a prime opportunity for a long vacation. This is also a good time to connect with family and friends, especially if you’re relocating to a more distant location.

“My husband and I took a trip to the Dominican Republic right before we started residency,” Dr. Shahid-Salles says. “I was looking ahead to all the cold wintry days I’d be spending at the hospital.”

Talk to current residents

“If you are moving to a new area after you match, start getting familiar with the hospital if you can,” says Rodney Fullmer, DO, a member of the AOA’s Bureau of Emerging Leaders. “Try to reach out to the residents who are already there.”

Current residents can answer your questions about housing and best places to live, he notes.

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They can also provide insights about the expectations for residents in your program, including call, says Stephen M. Scheinthal, DO, a psychiatry professor at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey.

“It’s important to understand what your on-call expectations will be, because you don’t want to end up living too far away to get to the hospital when you’re expected to be there,” he says.

Some residency programs post call and other expectations on their websites, he notes.

Brush up on critical care and ACLS

Nearly all medical students have been certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), but few spend significant amounts of time in the intensive care unit observing or assisting with high-quality critical care, says James Schoen, DO, the program director for the family medicine residency at Grandview Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

“If you haven’t done critical care, getting some experience in it before you start your residency would be invaluable,” he says.

Susan Enright, DO

Some residency programs provide ACLS certification to their new residents, but not all do. Find out if your program does, suggests Susan Enright, DO, the program director for internal medicine at Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Michigan. If it doesn’t, consider recertifying on your own or brushing up on the course material.

“Before you start your residency, you want to feel very comfortable with ACLS protocols,” she says.

Work nights and take call

Working nights and taking call will help fourth-year students develop greater confidence in their decision-making abilities, Dr. Schoen says.

Working the night shift helps students learn how to assess situations, evaluate medications and make decisions with little backup. “A student could potentially join the resident team doing night coverage for a period of time before they graduate,” he says.

Try to put in orders

“Between now and the time you finish medical school, one of the most important things you can do is try to put in orders under the supervision of a resident or an attending,” Dr. Fullmer says. “Ask the resident or your attending to allow you to start putting orders in, and try to do it on your own as much as possible with supervision so you get familiar with that process.”


  1. N. Mandava

    Most importantly, no one in the faculty or senior residents expect you to carry on your duties without a hitch. No one expects that you know everything!
    Let us face it you are green, and we all know it.
    It is most important that you communicate with your seniors and your attendings and do not feel shame in saying “I do not know how to do this” or to say “I need help”
    Once you recognize what you don’t know, not only are you are on your way to learning it, but it is the right thing to to for patient safety. Be a team player and ask for help.
    All the best, as we were all in the same boat.
    Do not feel that you are in a “sink or swim” environment. There are people waiting to help you, just ask!!

  2. Tanner G

    The only one above that matters is relax. Trust me, we will get you up to speed quick when you get to residency. Residency is a marathon so rest up, do fun things, and worry about hitting it hard when you get here. If you’re burnt out before you start you’ll hate intern year.

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